HOUSTON (AP) — Kevin Martin scored 30 points, Chase Budinger added 27 and Houston beat Deron Williams and the New Jersey Nets 123-108 on Saturday night in the Rockets’ first game since trading away Shane Battier and Aaron Brooks.
Budinger took Battier’s spot in the starting lineup and went 8 for 11 from the field. Luis Scola added 23 points and seven rebounds for the Rockets, who’ve won nine straight meetings with New Jersey.
Williams had 15 points and a season-high 17 assists for the Nets, who have lost five in a row and eight of 10.
New Jersey acquired Williams in a stunning trade with Utah this week, giving up point guard Devin Harris, rookie forward Derrick Favors, two first-round draft picks and $3 million in cash.
Goran Dragic had six points and an assist in his first game for the Rockets, who dealt Battier to Memphis and Brooks to Phoenix just before Thursday’s deadline. Hasheem Thabeet, who came to Houston in the Battier trade, made his debut with 2:02 left and picked up two fouls without scoring.
Williams had assists on New Jersey’s first four baskets, then flipped in a layup to give the Nets an early lead.
Both teams were shooting over 60 percent with 5 minutes left in the fast-paced opening quarter. Scola, who scored a career-high 44 against New Jersey last March, hit his first five shots and put Houston up 25-22 with a reverse layup.
Dragic, acquired in the Brooks trade, entered in the last minute of the first quarter. Jordan Farmar ran by Dragic for a layup, but landed awkwardly and twisted his left ankle. He came out at the next whistle and did not return.
Dragic and Williams guarded each other in the second quarter, and Dragic turned a steal into a breakaway layup to give Houston a 42-33 lead. Anthony Morrow and Travis Outlaw sank 3-pointers to help New Jersey close the gap.
Budinger then finished an alley-oop with a dunk and swished a straight-on 3-pointer in the last two minutes of the half. Budinger finished 3-for-4 from 3-point range.
The Rockets led 71-58 at the break, setting a season-high point total for a half.
Williams went 3-for-10 in the half, and shook his head after throwing up an airball from 3-point range just before the buzzer.
Houston stayed comfortably ahead in the second half and led by as many as 21.
Williams finished 3-for-12 from the field and missed all four of his 3-point attempts. Brook Lopez had 21 points and Kris Humphries had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets.
Notes: Williams has 28 double-doubles this season. … The Rockets have scored at least 60 points in a half in 23 games this season. … Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov did not attend Saturday’s game after watching Williams’ debut in San Antonio. Nets coach Avery Johnson said he met with Prokhorov after Friday’s game, and chatted about Williams and the Russian billionaire’s recent skiing vacation in Canada. “He’s excited,” Johnson said. “As much fun as he had heli-skiing, he was glad to be out of 30-below weather and into some sunshine in Texas. This was a bold move, and he has his hands all over it.” … The 7-foot-3 Thabeet did not play, and Houston coach Rick Adelman said he wants to see Thabeet practice before he puts him in a game. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with him,” Adelman said. “Let’s give it 36 hours, and then we’ll figure it out.”